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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

Inej cast a quick glance up at Kaz, then looked over her shoulder to make sure none of the crew was lurking nearby. Kaz had been clear that information even remotely related to the job must be kept among the six of them. “I don’t know exactly,” she said. “Three months ago Wylan turned up at a flophouse near the Slat. He was using a different surname, but Kaz keeps tabs on everyone new to the Barrel, so he had me do some snooping.”

“And?”

Inej shrugged. “The servants at the Van Eck house are paid well enough that they’re hard to bribe. The information I got didn’t add up to much. There were rumors Wylan had been caught in a sweaty romp with one of his tutors.”

“Really?” said Jesper incredulously. Hidden depths indeed.

“Just a rumor. And it’s not as if Wylan left home to take up residence with a lover.”

“So why did Papa Van Eck kick him out?”

“I don’t think he did. Van Eck writes to Wylan every week, and Wylan doesn’t even open the letters.”

“What do they say?”

Inej leaned back carefully on the railing. “You’re assuming I read them.”

“You didn’t?”

“Of course I did.” Then she frowned, remembering. “They just said the same thing again and again: If you’re reading this, then you know how much I wish to have you home. Or I pray that you read these words and think of all you’ve left behind.

Jesper looked over to where Wylan was chatting with Nina. “The mysterious merchling. I wonder what Van Eck did that was bad enough to send Wylan to slum it with us.”

“Now you tell me something, Jesper. What brought you on this mission? You know how risky this job is, what the chances are that we’ll come back. I know you love a challenge, but this is a stretch, even for you.”

Jesper looked at the gray swells of the sea, marching to the horizon in endless formation. He’d never liked the ocean, the sense of the unknown beneath his feet, that something hungry and full of teeth might be waiting to drag him under. And that was how he felt every day now, even on land.

“I’m in debt, Inej.”

“You’re always in debt.”

“No. It’s bad this time. I borrowed money from the wrong people. You know my father has a farm?”

“In Novyi Zem.”

“Yes, in the west. It just started turning a profit this year.”

“Oh, Jesper, you didn’t.”

“I needed the loan.… I told him it’s so I can finish my degree at the university.”

She stared at him. “He thinks you’re a student?”

“That’s why I came to Ketterdam. My first week in the city I went down to East Stave with some other students. I put a few kruge on the table. It was a whim. I didn’t even know the rules of Makker’s Wheel. But when the dealer gave the wheel a spin, I’d never heard a more beautiful sound. I won, and I kept winning. It was the best night of my life.”